First defendant in BAE education-fraud case pleads guilty

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO) – The first defendant in the BAE education-fraud case has pleaded guilty, according to the News-Sentinel.

In January of this year, 20 former employees of BAE Systems in Fort Wayne were charged with wire fraud, after they were allegedly involved in a scheme to exploit a 2013 company policy that would allow employees to collect payments in advance for tuition costs.

The men and women involved submitted fraudulent documents, taking more than a quarter of a million dollars.

RELATED: More than a dozen charged in education scam

Latonya Smith pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud Thursday in U.S. District Court of Fort Wayne. She has also agreed to cooperate during the investigation, and testify against her former co-workers.

Smith will also make restitution for the money she pocketed during the scam, which totals $27,000.

Smith’s charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, but her sentence will likely be reduced.

This is the first case to be resolved in the ongoing investigation, and Smith is due back in court on April 6.

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